The UK Government’s recovery strategy
On 11 May, the government set out its plan to return life to as near normal as we can but in a way that is safe. As part of this plan:
- People and employers should stay safe in public spaces and workplaces by following “Covid-19 secure” guidelines. This should enable more people to go back to work, where they cannot work from home.
- You should stay safe when you leave home: washing your hands regularly, maintaining social distancing, and ensuring you do not gather in groups of more than two, except with members of your household.
- You must continue to stay home except for a limited set of reasons but – in line with scientific advice – can take part in more outdoor activities from 13 May.
On 12 May Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the job retention scheme would be extended to October and confirmed that employees will continue to receive 80% of their monthly wages up to £2,500. But the Government will ask companies to “start sharing” the cost of the scheme from August onwards. Employers currently using the scheme would be able to bring furloughed employees back part-time.
Businesses and venues
For the time being, certain businesses and venues are required by law to stay closed to the public. These include:
- Restaurants and cafes, other than for takeaway
- Pubs, cinemas, theatres and nightclubs
- Clothing and electronics stores; hair, beauty and nail salons; and outdoor and indoor markets (not selling food)
- Libraries, community centres, and youth centres
- Indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, gyms, arcades and soft play facilities
- Some communal places within parks, such as playgrounds and outdoor gyms
- Places of worship (except for funerals)
- Hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for commercial/leisure use, excluding use by those who live in them permanently, those who are unable to return home and critical workers where they need to for work
Food retailers and food markets, hardware stores, garden centres (from 13 May) and certain other retailers can remain open. Other businesses can remain open and their employees can travel to work, where they cannot work from home. From 13 May, the government will also allow outdoor sports facilities – such as tennis and basketball courts, golf courses and bowling greens – to open, but you should only use these alone, with members of your household, or with one other person from outside your household, while keeping two metres apart at all times.
All non-essential shops can reopen in England from 15 June once they are COVID-19 secure. Shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets, will be expected to be able to reopen on 15 June. The Government has updated their Guidance for working safely during COVID-19 in shops and branches.
Preparing the Marble Arch and Edgware Road area for recovery
The Marble Arch BID continues to deliver much-needed services for members, both during and as we emerge from this crisis to facilitate recovery. No business is immune from the impact of this crisis and we want to make sure all our members have the support they need.
To support a safe and sustainable recovery, we have focused on advocacy and lobbying, security, and effective communications.
Our Street Team currently operates from 12-8pm. We are reviewing personnel capacity on a weekly basis.
Public space & transport
We are working with Westminster City Council and Transport for London to explore the possibility of road closures to enable Government social distancing practice. Visit our Transport page for more information.
We will provide free social distancing floor stickers for the pavements outside stores to enable a district wide, uniformed system for safe queuing, please get in touch if you would like us to provide free social distancing floor stickers.
Communication and marketing
We have increased communication with members, with regular virtual meetings and a weekly newsletter. Please sign up here to receive our weekly updates.
We also started a webinars series in April, our next session is on 1 June where we will discuss Recovery.
We are developing a local loyalty scheme to encourage residents and office workers to shop and eat locally once shops and restaurants re-open. In the meantime, have a look at Westminster City Council’s interactive map.
We are also working with Government destination marketing agencies on new domestic and international marketing campaigns designed for a post COVID-19 world. We will be updating further on these as we enter the reopening and recovery phases.
Recommendations for our members
Going to work
You can travel to work, including to provide voluntary or charitable services, where you cannot work from home and your workplace is open. With the exception of the organisations covered above in the section on closing businesses and venues, the government has not required any other businesses to close to the public.
However, businesses must behave responsibly now and mitigate risk of a second wave of infection. Please follow Government guidance, employees who can work from home should still work from home.
- Offices: Guidance for people who work in or run offices, contact centres and similar indoor environments.
- Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery: Guidance for people who work in or run restaurants offering takeaway or delivery services.
- Shops and branches: Guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments. (Updated 26 May 2020)
- Construction and other outdoor work: Guidance for people who work in or run outdoor working environments.
- Vehicles: Guidance for people who work in or from vehicles, including couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on-site transit and work vehicles, field forces and similar.
- Factories, plants and warehouses: Guidance for people who work in or run factories, plants and warehouses.
- Other people’s homes: Guidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to other people’s homes.
CIPD published a useful guide on 12 May with three, people-first tests that will help guide your organisation to a safe and gradual return to the workplace.
Staff and well-being
We recommend that your staff are trained and aware of any new rules and guidance that your business puts in place. These may include: regular hand-washing, guidance on what personal protection equipment (PPE) will be provided for staff, new cleaning regime, recommendations of the safest ways to travel to and from work e.g. flexible hours to avoid limited capacity on public transport, walking / cycling routes.
Alternative ways to travel, such as walking and cycling, could relieve the pressure on public transport. If you would like to put in place a cycle to work scheme, please read the Department for Transport’s Cycle to Work Scheme Guidance for Employers, covering benefits, eligibility, equipment, taxation, and salary sacrifice and national insurance contributions.
It is evident from our conversation with local businesses on 6 May that the Government needs to provide accurate guidelines to help businesses get employees back to work safely, but businesses will need to do more to ensure employees feel safe, even more so in the hospitality and retail sectors where back of house staff often work in small spaces. Employers must communicate guidelines clearly and repeat them constantly.
Health and Safety Executive have published some guidance on how to keep people safe at work, click here to find out more.
The London Fire Brigade have published guidance on fire safety matters and returning to work after the Coronavirus lockdown. It contains helpful information from a fire safety perspective including matters related to management of assembly points and evacuation routes impacted by social distancing issues.
It is important that shops respect neighbouring premises and work together to ensure customers can queue safely. We will be provide free markings on the footpath so it is consistent across the district creating minimal visual clutter. Please get in touch if you would like us to provide free social distancing floor stickers.
Please visit our Social Distancing page for more information.